About 10 years ago, my wife, Florence, and I and several other parishioners started the Welcoming the Whole Family Committee at St. Andrew Parish in Portland, OR. Our effort was to make our parish welcoming to all especially to persons who are gay or lesbian. Our immediate motivation was the fact that we have twin, adult, lesbian daughters who no longer went to church. The 10 or so persons on this committee also began to meet as a Small Faith Community. Father Bob, our former Pastor, was a great promoter of Small Faith Communities. He wanted to increase their number in our Parish. So one day he called and asked a person from each of the four Small Faith Communities to give a brief, three minute testimonial that coming Sunday during the Eucharist.

Being a Catholic parent of one gay and one lesbian young adult has meant for me a long journey to understand how those two important portions of my identity can both be gifts. I am Catholic to the core of my being; I love the Church, the Eucharist, the liturgy, the Marianist family to which I belong.

At the same time I love my two gay children deeply and unconditionally. I struggle with the Church’s teaching: On the one hand, the bishops have taught us in “Always Our Children,” to embrace our children and that God loves every person as a unique individual. On the other hand, gays are called “objectively disordered”; they are not welcomed or in some cases even acknowledged in our parishes.

Twelve years ago my daughter Gretchen invited me to come to Purdue University for dinner to celebrate my birthday. She was taking summer classes and working at Whirlpool so she remained on campus. The next semester she would begin her senior year.

Following dinner she gave me my gift, a book titled Straight Parents; Gay Children. I couldn’t believe my eyes. After an uncomfortable period of silence, I asked her if she were trying to tell me something. As she nodded, I asked her if she were sure to which she responded, “Mom, are you sure you’re heterosexual?” Since I had never questioned my sexuality, I was certain she had and now understood what had been puzzling her for some time.